Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
Thrills, spills and high speed racing action await guests as the first weekend of fall arrives in Orange County.
The “Showdown on the Sabine” Tunnel Boat Races have become the largest annual event in Orange County. Held each year at the City of Orange Boat Ramp, 1000 Simmons Drive in Orange, the multi-day event attracts thousands of people to Orange.
“The Tunnel Boat Races event is very important to the City of Orange due to the opportunities it creates for increased hotel occupancy, a quality of life event for residents and visitors, and to showcase the City Boat Ramp where the recent Bassmasters Elite Series fishing tournament was held during March,” said Jay Trahan, director of Economic Development.
Now entering its sixth year, parking and admission are still free for the family-oriented event. However, pets, coolers and bicycles are not allowed.
As usual, there are numerous vendors offering tasty food and cold beverages, for kids and for adults, as well as crafts. Other fun activities include waterslides, a petting zoo, pony rides and inflatable bounce houses. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to watch the racing action along the edge of the levee.
Several classifications of boats will participate as always, including J-Hydro featuring youth racers, Tri-Hull, Light Formula and the Formula 1 racing machines which can hit speeds of approximately 150 miles per hour.
According to Trahan, many of the racers are from Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Oklahoma, while others come from as far north as Detroit and Chicago to take part in the racing circuit.
Other activities at this year’s event include helicopter rides, craft booths, an adult beverage booth and pit passes to enter the race area will also be available for purchase.
Music is also part of this year’s event. A free concert by local band Rock Alley will be held at 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Orange Riverfront Pavilion in downtown Orange.
“This is such an exciting event for our area every year,” said Ida Schossow, president of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce. “The City of Orange Boat Ramp is such a great venue for this event, and it’s a great asset for the city.
“The Tunnel Boat Races bring a lot of attention to our city,” she added. “It’s definitely the most attended event each year in the county.”
The “Showdown on the Sabine” is organized and funded by the City of Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau and approved by the Orange City Council in an effort to promote tourism. There are approximately 65 staff and volunteers who work the event.
Regardless of the weather, the Sixth Annual Showdown on the Sabine is shaping up to be the best ever. Visit www.orangetexas.org for the full schedule.